GRIMSBY TOWN 1 (Conlon (pen)) ALDERSHOT TOWN 0
DATE: Saturday 28th March 2009 | COMPETITION: Coca-Cola League Two | VENUE: Blundell Park | ATT: 7095
On-loan striker Barry Conlon was johnny-on-the-spot for Grimsby Town as he cooly converted an 82nd-minute penalty to sink Aldershot in front of a bumper crowd at Blundell Park.
A swirling wind and occasional showers meant the conditions weren’t well suited to good football and it was the visitors who found their feet quickest. Wayne Henderson acrobatically tipped over Justin Cochrane’s 25-yard effort on five minutes and then he raced off his line to deny Kirk Hudson after the Shots’ man darted in behind the Town defence.
The hosts’ first sight of goal came on 21 minutes when Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro swivelled and shot from 18 yards, but his half volley went wide of the target. Venezuelan International Miguel Jaimez-Ruiz then got down smartly to stop a Peter Sweeney effort, before the Scot tried his luck with another long-range effort.
Town were hit by an injury blow on 32 minutes when Chris Llewellyn limped out of play, he was replaced by Peter Bore. Undeterred, the Mariners continued to press and their two best chances of the half fell to Nick Hegarty.
The young winger saw his stretching effort from a deep Robbie Stockdale cross fly just over before he shot straight into the grateful arms of Jaimez-Ruiz after outstripping the Shots’ back line.
It was Gary Waddock’s men who should have taken the lead in the opening moments of the second half. The Mariners’ defence was all at sea and when the ball eventually dropped to John Grant he had the goal at his mercy – Rob Atkinson did superbly to get back and clear the shot off the line.
The Mariners upped the tempo from here-in and Atkinson dropped a header just over the bar, before Ryan Bennett nodded wide from an acute angle. A hat-trick of headed chances was completed by substitute Bore who saw his effort land on top of the net.
Versatile youngster Bore then came closest to opening the scoring with a 30-yard piledriver that smacked the bar and went to safety.
The home side were getting closer and after neat build-up play by Sweeney and James Hunt, Akpa-Akpro saw his goalbound effort frantically cleared by Anthony Straker.
It was the Ivorian’s last contribution to the game as he was replaced by Adam Proudlock, and four minutes later the Mariners took the lead. A long ball over the top from Hegarty found Conlon in a race with Anthony Charles.
Both men struggled to get the ball under control, but the Shots’ defender looked to use his hand at the same time as bundling the burly Town striker to the ground. The assistant referee flagged for a penalty and Conlon himself stepped up to nonchalantly chip the ball down the centre of the goal.
It should have been two just seconds later. Proudlock harried Jaimez-Ruiz into a mistake and the ball fell kindly for Hegarty to stroke into the empty net. Referee David Webb inexplicably ruled the goal out for a foul by Proudlock when it appeared that the Shots’ stopper had simply fallen over the ball.
It mattered not as the Mariners held on for another vital victory in their battle against the drop.
TOWN: Henderson, Stockdale, Widdowson, Bennett, Atkinson, Llewellyn (Bore), Hunt, Sweeney, Hegarty, Akpa Akpro (Proudlock), Conlon. Subs not used: Heywood, Forbes, Lund.
MARINERS’ MAN OF THE MATCH: Peter Sweeney. A classy performance in the centre from the Scot, and unlucky not to open his goals account.
WHAT THEY SAID: “It was a hard game, one I suppose you’d describe that ‘you’ve ground it out’.” (Stuart Watkiss)